Victory last night came at too heavy a price.
UCLA freshman guard Jordan Adams is out for the season with a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He had scored a game-high 24 points to carry the Bruins to a 66-64 win over Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.
Adams injured the foot trying to defend Solomon Hill's last shot, and told teammates as he limped off the court that he suspected it was broken. He suffered a similar injury two summers ago.
"It's horrible," forward Travis Wear said. "His toughness and his shot, and what he brings to this team, it's going to be hard to replace. The way, he's been playing, it sucks.
"He came out and he put us on his back. To hurt your foot on the last play of the game, with what we have coming up, it doesn't get worse than this."
Travis was not exaggerating on Jordan's play.
Before a sold-out sea of red at MGM Grand Garden Arena, the freshman guard had erupted for 18 second-half points, twisting his way to acrobatic layups and hitting UCLA's only 3-pointer of the game.
After the Bruins narrowed the margin to within four points after being down by double digits, Adams took them the rest of the way.
He took over the stadium in dizzying fashion, outscoring the Wildcats by himself with a 13-8 run that tied the score with 3:53 left.
More than two minutes later, he capped his scoring on a tide-turning play - getting a steal off Arizona guard Mark Lyons for a fastbreak. Center Kaleb Tarczewski picked up his fifth foul as he wrapped up Adams, who hit both for a 64-61 lead at 1:13.
While Jordan Adams is the lost hero we mourn there was a lot else going on during this game. As Tydides wrote the Freshman came up big. First, Shabazz again.
Adams provided the final heroics for UCLA, but Shabazz Muhammad set that up with five straight unanswered points midway through the second half. He only had two points in the first half, but finished the game with 11.
And it was Kyle Anderson who made the winning shot in another Bruin comeback victory:
Grant Jerrett drilled a 3-point basket to tie the game at 64 with 55 seconds to play. Adams tried to answer, but his 3-pointer missed. Kyle Anderson came up with a huge offensive rebound and putback for a two-point lead with 22 seconds to play. Solomon Hill missed a shot as time wound down, and UCLA hung on for its third victory in three tries over the Wildcats (25-7) this season.
The Wildcats, who threatened to run away from the Bruins several times, opened a 49-38 lead with 10:24 to play, thanks in large part to cold shooting by the Bruins. UCLA missed their first six shots of the second half and could not prevent Lyons from penetrating for layups or passes to set up easy shots. Adams caught fire from there, however, making five of his last seven shots and going 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the last 9:56.
During the first half, Arizona went on a tear from long range, making 3-point baskets on three consecutive possessions to open a 26-18 lead with 5:18 before intermission. But UCLA stayed close as Adams made four free throws and Travis Wear scored on an alley-oop from Kyle Anderson. The Bruins cut Arizona's lead to 30-26 by halftime.
Stat of the game: The Bruins became the first team this season to win a game against Arizona when scoring fewer than 70 points. The Wildcats had been 23-0 when holding opponents under 70.
But there was also intrigue off the court. First on the Arizona side. Sean Miller lost it complaining about the refs. From any other coach complaining about the PAC 12 refs (or as we call them here the SPTR), I would feel some sympathy. But from Miller, who has been given victories in games such as Colorado and Florida to complain about the referees is a bit much. As a UCLA fan, I am beginning to think we should hope that Arizona gives Miller a long term contract. He is not a good coach and I am sure he misses the irony of complaining about the referees who have given his team multiple wins this season:
Arizona coach Sean Miller was irate at the officials after the game. UCLA had a 21-9 advantage at the free throw line, but it was a technical foul he incurred at 4:37 when arguing Mark Lyons' turnover. The technical sent sent Jordan Adams to the line for two free throws that tied the game at 56.
Miller brought up the foul about a dozen times in the post-game press conference. Here's a snippet of his rant:
The reason I got a technical foul is because I said, he touched the ball. He touched the ball. Like in other words, Mark Lyons dribbled - and by the way, when you show the replay here on ESPN in a few seconds - he touched the ball. He touched the ball. he touched the ball. He touched the ball. That's a hard one now when you work August, September, October, November, December, January, February, and here we are. My man (Solomon Hill) is over here, he's never coming back here again. His coach gets a technical foul. Didn't cuss. Didn't challenge him. ... If I cuss and I'm out of control and I've been warned, shame on me.
Some other intrigue on the UCLA side. I have my own thoughts on this but for today I will just flag it for you all to read:
How big was the victory? Athletic Director Dan Guerrero and Associate Athletic Director Mark Harlan came to the locker room afterward.
A week ago, Guerrero was behind the bench at Washington when the Bruins clinched the conference championship. He did not come to the locker room after that game.
Those are intrigues going on floors above UCLA's players. Their concerns were ground level Friday.
I will add that I don't think anyone should belittle the accomplishment of beating a top 20 team three times in a season. Yes, Arizona is overrated. However, Arizona was essentially playing a home game Friday night and UCLA did beat them three times, which is hard to do anytime even to a team that is not ranked. It was close to a "huge" win. Some serious congratulations are due the players.
However, the players certainly didn't feel like celebrating the win after hearing of Jordan Adams' injury.
A dark curtain swung in front of the small UCLA locker room at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, as an expressionless Ben Howland walked in, forced to be the bearer of bad news. . . .
. . .Fellow freshman Shabazz Muhammad looked ahead just a few feet away from Drew and spoke softly as he answered the same questions. Likely a one-and-done player, Muhammad, like Drew, wouldn't play again with Adams - a reality that had just begun to sink in.
"I don't know what we're going to do," Muhammad said. "This is bad for us. We're going to the tournament, and we were feeling really confident. This is terrible.". . .
"Just everything we've been through all season," Drew said, struggling to get out the words, "it seems like we can't get a break."
Later we can talk about Howland and why it would be nice to have Tyler Lamb right now. For now though, please post you favorite Jordan Adams moment this season in your first response. I will say mine was the UCI game where this kid I had no expectations for single handledly won the game on offense going 16-16 from the free throw line.
Get well Jordan. You will be missed by all UCLA fans as well. Go Bruins!